Looking for good freelancing advice? The internet is full of people willing to pass on their golden nuggets of tips and tricks. Truthfully, I wouldn’t be doing what I love without the guidance of other freelancers who generously gave away their secrets of success. But any advice you come across must relate to you and your situation. What works well for one freelancer may not work at all for the next. Here’s four examples of good freelancing advice that I didn’t listen to — and why I’m glad I didn’t.
Keep a 9 to 5 Work Day, Monday through Friday
The reason behind the advice: Most businesses follow a 9 to 5 work day. Once you make the transition to freelancing, keeping that 9 to 5 working schedule helps you to maintain the workday routine. You know what type of activity you should be engaging in, just by the time of day. There’s a set time to start work, and a set time to quit work. And since 9 to 5 is when many of your clients are doing business, it only makes sense that you should be conducting business during those hours as well.
Why I don’t follow this freelancing advice: There are many reasons I don’t follow this little nugget of advice. First, my clients are from all over the country, in all four time zones, so it really isn’t feasible to accommodate them all. Second, I like to run my errands during the 9 to 5 because that’s when stores are less crowded, saving me time. Third, I have 3 kids, a husband, and a dog. I don’t feel my schedule is completely my own; I have to be flexible for them. And that flexibility is what I found so appealing about freelancing in the first place. Fourth, my clients don’t know, and probably don’t care, when I get my work done. The only thing my clients care about is that I do get the work done, on time.
Have a Designated Work Space
The reason behind the advice: Having a designated work space — an area where you only go to work, and only work in that area — helps to separate the work and personal aspects of your life. When you enter your work area, your brain know it’s time to work. When you leave your work area, your brain knows it’s time to stop working.
Why I don’t follow this freelancing advice: While I love the idea of having a designated work area, I just don’t have the room for one. And I won’t have the space until I hit the lotto and buy a bigger house, or one of my kids moves out. And frankly, I’m not waiting for either one of these scenarios. I’m pursuing my goals now!
Always Get a Deposit
The reason behind the advice: There’s no shortage of unscrupulous people looking to pull a fast one. If you’re unfortunate enough to do business with one, at least you got your 50% up front. And if a potential client balks at paying the deposit, that’s a red flag that they might just be one of those people.
Why I don’t follow this freelancing advice: When I first started out as a freelance writer, I just felt too awkward asking for a deposit. So I took my chances. Nowadays, I have the confidence to ask, but only in certain situations. Generally, I only get large orders from clients I’ve been working with for a long period of time, so there is a sense of trust, and I don’t bother with a deposit. For new clients, whether or not I ask for a deposit depends on the size of the project. Most times, a new client will only order one or two posts at a time, to make sure my writing is a good fit. In these instances, I don’t bother with a deposit. If I was contacted by a new client with a large order, I would definitely ask for a deposit. But, I am a freelance writer, where I usually start off with a small, $40.00 project to test the waters. If I were to get stiffed, it wouldn’t cost me too much — in money or time. This is a completely different scenario from say a freelance designer, who might want to always get a deposit.
Don’t Answer E-mails After Hours or on Weekends
The reason behind the advice: If you are sending out e-mails at all hours of the night or on your days off, your clients may come to expect you to be available at any given hour. They will start to expect immediate replies from you at 2 AM, on a Saturday.
Why I don’t follow this freelancing advice: The reasoning behind this one made a lot of sense to me when I first started out, so I did follow this for a while. I lost a few potential assignments, because someone else had been hired by Monday. Now, I check — and answer — e-mails on a regular basis, including evenings and weekends. I try not to work (much) on weekends, but I am always available for a quick question (thank you, smart phone).
The beauty of working for yourself is that you call the shots. You make the rules. Just because someone else tells you to do things their way doesn’t mean you have to. When it comes to freelancing advice, keep what works for you, and throw away the rest!